Calling her young daughter “garbage” after she behaved disrespectfully is just one of the many incidents that is outraging American parents when they read Amy Chua’s newly published book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.
While I haven’t read the book myself, I was sent a copy of The Wall Street Journal’s article “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” and I, myself, was shocked at some of the treatment Chua’s two young daughters (now 15 and 18) have had to endure over the years.
Many have been most upset over Chua insisting that her seven-year-old daughter sit at the piano until she played her piano piece perfectly—with no mistakes whatsoever. She didn’t allow bathroom breaks or food or water.
Chua didn’t allow her kids to have sleep overs, play dates, or play television or computer games. Instead she would accept nothing less than an A on a report card and insisted that they play either the piano or the violin perfectly—pretty common in Chinese households, according to Chua.
Accepting nothing less than an A on a report card caused my heart to skip a beat. My first thought was, ‘Isn’t she lucky she had children who were capable of getting As and not children with any type of learning disability.’
What would she have done then, tormented the child their entire life and call them garbage because they couldn’t get the A she expected? Made their life a living hell because they weren’t able to understand or read the notes on the music in front of them?
Isn’t she lucky that she had children who were able to achieve the goals she set for them.
Many are suggesting that Chua’s book is angering Americans because we are already upset about the fact that many U.S. jobs are going to China and that American (or Western) children are not prepared to compete in a global market.
I do concede that too many Western parents are more interested in being friends with their kids and not their parents and that too many young kids are walking around aimlessly smoking cigarettes (which is illegal) or causing trouble because of lack of parental supervision.
But, isn’t there a happy medium somewhere between strict, authoritarian child-rearing and allowing kids to have everything they want and more without consequences?
It seems that while a majority of Chinese kids are being raised playing piano or violin and scoring high in math and spelling, they are being outpaced by Westerners in creativity and ingenuity.
Time magazine gives the examples of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Americans have consistently been in the forefront when it comes to entrepreneurs and inventions and also medical breakthroughs—all because we are given more freedom to be inventive and imaginative.
Kids here in the west probably do spend too much time on Facebook and other screen vices. I know that Xbox is played a little too much at my house and the texting has gotten a little out of hand. But, I have kids that are very social, happy and can have conversations with people of all ages. And they both do well in school.
Both Chua and most Western parents want the best for their kids and love them without reservation. Our top priority is to raise a successful, capable adult—children who excel in the real world and who will also be happy.
The outrage over Chua’s book seems to have hit a sore spot with many and her comment that, “Everyone is special in their own special way. Even losers are special in their own special way,” has certainly not won her any friends.
But, hopefully parents on both sides of the line can see that there is good in both ways of raising kids and teaching tolerance by example should be a top priority for all parents.